- Passport (VERY IMPORTANT)
- Bathing suit.
- Flip flops.
- Take out trash.
- Take out recycling.
- Wash sheets.
- Clean out fridge’s contents.
- Turn on out of office.
- Write out transition notes.
- Submit timesheet.
- Sign off on documents.
- Provide emergency contact details.
Like a typical bullet journal-er, I work best with to-do lists. I write them out for everything: work projects, errands, even chores. On any given day, my bullet journal daily spread will include boxes I need to check off for items like “schedule happy hour,” “follow up with colleague on status of project,” or “register for next week’s spin classes.” Writing out everything I need to do on a daily basis is a stress management technique for me; it gives me an at-a-glance overview of everything that I need to get done. Once I know that, I can better plan and manage my time for the day.
In the last few weeks, my to-do lists have taken on a new category: vacation planning and preparation. I’m going to Perth, Australia, for two weeks, to visit friends and family and do some local travel. I’ve written checklists for what to pack (both in my checked luggage and in my carry-on), a running tally for how much everything is costing me (plane tickets, visas, gifts), and countless to-do lists for everything I need to complete at work before I leave (transition notes! out of office! timesheet! etc, etc). On more than one occasion, I’ve felt a tightening sensation in my jaw and a sense of rising panic after I write out all of my checklists. Vacation is supposed to be relaxing, I remind myself every time there seems to be too much work and too little time to do it in. You will get this all done. IT WILL BE FINE.
It’s hard to get away from real life for a two week stint, and I’m incredibly lucky to be able to do so. I know this. But the logistics of getting everything squared away before I go is almost enough to not go on vacation at all. My checklists are supposed to manage my stress and allow me to methodically tackle each item I have to complete for the day. When it comes to vacation preparation, though, I don’t find this to be an effective stress management technique at all. In fact, I stopped writing them altogether and started keeping track of everything in my head (a sure way for me to forget something, sigh) because writing them had become such a source of internal tension.
Maybe it’s because the last few months have been non-stop, and I’m finding it hard to make a clean break from everything I have going on. Maybe it’s because I know it will be hard to get in touch with me when I am overseas and 13 hours ahead, so I am trying to get everything squared away at work for any possible scenario where people would need to contact me (turns out, there are a lot of scenarios). Maybe it’s because I’ve never traveled solo and my 10 hour layover in the Middle East is filling me with nerves (but the good kind!) because it’ll be my first time in that part of the world. Maybe it’s because I have 30+ hours of travel just to get there (I can’t even talk about the total amount of time I will spend in transit on this trip) and, well, that’s a really, really long time. Maybe it’s because I’ll be visiting a city I haven’t been to in 10 years, hanging out with my childhood best friend that I haven’t seen in 8 years, and spending time with my high school bestie that I haven’t seen in 2.5 years.
Whatever the reason is, my stress levels leading up to my big Australian adventure are high, high, HIGH.
“Why am I so stressed and panicky?” I asked my boyfriend as I wrapped up the last of my packing.
“I don’t know,” he shrugged.
“I just feel like there is so much I still have to do and not enough time.”
“Well, you’re about to finish packing. What else do you have to do?”
“Um…” My voice faltered. “Well. I have to wash my hair. Charge my Kindle. Go to the bank. Submit my timesheet. Turn on my out of office.”
He smiled. “All of that, combined, will take you less than two hours. I promise. And you have a lot more than two hours before you leave, so you’ll be just fine.”
I took a deep breath. “You sure?”
Laughing, he said, “Yes, I’m sure. You can even write it out as a checklist, if it makes you feel better.”
So I did. And he was right. I got it all done, and I felt better, and now I’m off to hot and sunny Australia for two weeks on a well-earned vacation!